Saturday, December 26, 2020

You got to believe

Five more days of hunting in 2020 and like most people I have to say it wasn't the best for me. But even at that, it doesn't take much looking to realize how lucky I am and there are many out there not as fortunate as I am.

As far as for me personally, you all know about my leg and back surgeries that are still up in the air as to whether they might need some tweeking, but no matter what I'm still able to get on the mountain. The new complication came December 8th when I was knocked flat by Covid. It was about as sick as I can remember being, but I probably said the same thing the last time I had the Flu. I was down for about three days and felt I was coming back and after a hunt with the boys I was down for another three. The Doc gave me some steroids and told me to treat it like the Flu and just take care. So me and the boys were soon on the mountain again. This disease seems to attack all the old injuries on the body and I have had a few. My lungs burnt like the first day of football practice and needless to say the dogs did a lot of waiting for me. But waiting they did and encouraged me up the hill.

The good news is that even though I'm still having some lung issues, I'm not contagious anymore and Covid is a thing of the past for me. 

Jake and Grady have had an up and down year. I believe the downs were mainly caused by my inability to move on the mountain as we have in the past and they had a tough time adjusting to me. We found decent bird numbers but had far too much busting of birds. For the most part, I held back from shooting those birds but was never in position to correct any bad habits forming. Luckily, as the season progressed the boys got it figured out on their own. My camera has been left in the truck most of this season so I don't have the proof of how the boys came around but they really got solid again for me. Here's a couple taken when I did have the camera. Jake

and Grady

The two of them have carried me through what could have been a very slow season if I hadn't believed in them, the birds and me. I really believed that I would recover much faster from my injuries and that part was a little disappointing but my belief in the dogs and birds kept me coming back. I knew the boys would turn it around and give me some great opportunities if I just kept going back and they didn't let me down. Even though there was a lot of pessimism from many hunters on the bird numbers this year I knew that those hunters would quit hunting and leave that many more mountains to search chukars out. I was right. I haven't seen another hunter or heard one in a month. But I have seen more birds than expected. Put being on the mountain together with two dogs and lot's of birds and you have a recipe for success.

Not all days are like these

but if you don't believe you'll find birds and the dogs will do their part
then you'll never have these days.
These were the results of my last three hunts. The only bragging I mean by these pictures is of those two dogs. I can't remember the last time my lungs burned like those hunts. It was hard to even get out of the truck and get started but once I did the excitement of those two transferred to me and I knew I was in for another fun journey. None of those trips started out finding birds early and it would have been easy to turn back and go another day but I believed the dogs would eventually find birds and they did. And while on the mountain I saw so much country we hadn't even touched yet and showed great possibilities. Country I believe has to have birds covering the slopes for my dogs to find. I still have another month to find the legs to get there and create another memory.





Friday, December 11, 2020

Another old picture

 Sometimes while hunting something happens that we can't explain. About 25 years ago, I had Tucker on a chukar hunt with me. As we headed up the hill we watched around 25 head of elk go over the ridge. Later as we rounded the hill I saw this yearling standing and watching Tucker trying to find some chukars. It was aware that I was there but showed no fear. I started taking pictures of the elk at about 75 yards or so and kept snapping pictures until the role of film was out.

The last picture I took was at 5 yards and the elk didn't move a muscle.

At one point I made Tucker stay for a picture with the elk. The elk didn't seem to mind but Tucker wasn't comfortable at all with the situation.

The only thing I can come up with on this encounter is that maybe this yearling was actually asleep when the rest of the heard meandered off and it didn't know how to react without mom along to show fear of me. Probably lot's of possibilities but interesting encounter all the same.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020


 Things haven't quite turned out the way that I hoped this hunting season. My leg hasn't healed the way I hoped and my back operation seems to be not  successful. None of it is due to nothing but me. Everybody involved did their best, but each step on the hill is painful and it is getting harder to stay excited about the next hunt. That's the bad news. 

The good news is two chukar dogs that love to hunt. They are the reason I get up at least three times a week and travel to a chukar mountain. I owe it to them to get them out as often as possible. After all, I'm the one who introduced them to this excitement that they love. So out we go chasing the dream. Like usual, it's a long hike before we finally find some birds but the dogs are willing to run and cover the ground looking for that wonderful scent. Outside of me being much slower, every hunt seems to be the same as before for them. I have become use to not seeing birds for the first hour or two but this year it's bothering me more because from the moment I step out of the truck I hurt. Somehow watching the dogs do what they do helps to forget about the pain. And even though we don't seem to be working as well together as we have in the past, I haven't lost my love of seeing them in action.

Take yesterdays hunt. After the collars were put on the dogs, they immediately headed straight up the mountain. Being cold, I had some muffs over my ears and maybe they had heard chukars high up on the hill that I couldn't hear. My leg won't let me go straight up so I have to side hill back and forth to gain elevation and most of the time the boys are out of sight. But they know we are a team and every once in a while they will come back and get a peek to make sure I'm still with them. I am amazed at how many times I check the Alpha and they are covering a different area but than show up right in front of me. They have an instinct to not lose me. 

The first birds I saw were swinging around the mountain about 100 yards to my right at a high rate of speed. Shortly after, Grady came down at a fast trot. My first instincts were to correct this bad behavior but I quickly remembered I am the variable that has changed on the mountain this year. I gave him a quick no and he headed back up the mountain. Not long after that I heard Jake excitedly yipping as he does when he is following some running bird scent, and just as I see him the birds flush way out of range. It is something he has done all his life, without the flushing so I let it go. But still, I'm hurting and would just like to get a shot. 

About an hour and a half into the hunt I had my first point, or should I say dual points. Grady was 250 yards to my left and Jake was 47 yards to my right. No brainer here. Jake's point was flawless as I walked in front and busted the covey. After the shot Grady was there before Jake had retrieved the bird to me. I don't know what happened on his point but he wasn't about to miss out on action. Bird in the vest we moved on.

The rest of the day went about the same. We had some more blunders along with some great dog work. At times, when I could see the dogs, I stopped to rest and just enjoyed watching the dogs cover the ground. Taking the weight off my leg and back was welcomed. It was amazing to watch them work the area in their different ways. Grady going 100 miles an hour and Jake methodically using his nose. Watching them I really got an appreciation of what they do for me. 

Later on I heard Grady wildly yipping and suddenly a large covey of chukars dove over my head with Grady not too far behind. I didn't know why the yipping and chase but figured that maybe someday when I could actually see the action I can correct it. We had plenty more blunders, some I can understand, and also more good dog work. It ended up being one of those good days in spite of me limping around and the dogs doing some bird chasing. I'd say if someone was watching from the distance and saw my boys chasing birds they might think I had some pretty wild dogs and at times they might be right. But they would have to see the many points in between those wild moments to really appreciate how special they are. They know how to find birds and many times hold them so that even a crippled old man can get some action. That's pretty darn special.

A side note back to the last post and old pictures. This ram was obvious hard asleep on this hunt. Tucker and I were chukar hunting when we got about twenty yards from him and he jumped up. He seemed startled before he quickly disappeared.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Old pictures

Rainy day today so I got caught today inside looking over old pictures. I don't mean digital pictures but those from a camera that needed film exposures, if that's the right term. I remember packing a camera around back then and having to stop and put new film in because I ran out. I had to climb out of a bear den once because I ran out of exposures and as I was changing film the bear about bowled me over escaping. 

Anyhow, obviously I had some fond memories brought back to me such as this one about 20 years ago while hunting with Tucker and Dakota the beginning of TEAM TUCKOTA. It amazes me of how many close encounters we have while chasing chukars. You'd think with all the commotion animals would be exiting rapidly but I believe at times wild animals are interested in what the crazy dogs are doing. This picture is one example.

I noticed both dogs acting strange towards a clump of sage but neither dog was acting birdie so I approached the bush. To my surprise I could see this lion staring at me. I was only about 10 yards away when I realized what was there and soon figured it wasn't acting threatening so I traded my shotgun and snapped this picture. As I moved to get a different angle he or she trotted away in a casual manner and the boys went on hunting.

It was a cool encounter since everything went without an injury. But it was also cool to be so close without the cat, dogs or myself getting aggressive. I always have a lion and wolf tag in my possession just in case. Take the case where I shot the lion hot on Dakota's tracks while chukar hunting one year. The lion wasn't a yard behind my dog when I pulled the trigger and later realized I didn't have to shoot. The lion was only using the same escape route that Dakota was using to get out of the rocks. He was just a little faster and probably would have run over the top of my dog getting out of there with me yelling like a crazed fool in fear for my dog.

Over the years my records only show two years that I haven't seen a mountain lion while chukar hunting but I have to wonder how many times there has been one within 50 yards of me and the dogs without us even knowing it. There has been three other times that I have jumped a lion at less than 10 yards and they trotted off at a fast lope with very little care. They had plenty of time to get out of the country with the dogs running all over the place but didn't until I got too close.

I found a few other interesting photos but will save them for another day. The weather is looking great for some bird hunting so get those mutts out there and enjoy it. I know I am.

P.S. for Alan

Treed large female lion.

Climbing up tree with her. 

Decided that wasn't too smart so I climbed the tree next to her to snap a shot. When she started digging her feet in I decided it was time to retreat not knowing whether she was going to head my way or down the tree. She lived to hunt more wildlife.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Moisture and the mutts

 Sometimes it's hard to put a finger on poor dog work. I know that more than just once I have wondered if my dog has gone brain dead. The beginning of this bird season had me wondering about Grady and my letting him run wild this summer. It seemed like he had found a new past time, chasing birds. As the hunting season came upon us, I tried to explain that I could make them run and fly without his help but it seemed like we weren't connecting. Jake, on the other hand, has learned to pace himself while Grady bumped more and more birds. I knew it was hot and dry, making scenting conditions tough, but things were getting a little out of hand. We had a few decent days but watching birds fly 100 yards away was beginning to get old. I was thinking we might have to go back to the basics and then the snow came.

It takes birds to make a good hunting dog, but it takes bird scent equally as much. I decided after Grady's performance today that for the past month his nostrils were filled with dust and pollen. He was running so hard he was creating clouds of dust he couldn't see birds through. Today's snow knocked all the dust down and Grady became a  different dog. I mention Grady just because for the most part Jake has become mister dependable and has learned not to get all fired up like Grady. His pace is a little slower and purposeful. He might not find as many birds but he very seldom bumps them.

From the time we left the truck Grady was off to the races. 300 yards to my left, then three hundred yards to my right and then three hundred yards behind me. There wasn't much area uncovered. I knew that because even though I usually couldn't see my boys there tracks were everywhere in the new snow. I was wondering how many birds had already been flushed that I never heard or saw, when my Alpha said Grady on point 158 yards away. I headed towards him and soon it showed Jake on point in the same general area. When I got there Jake was honoring Grady and I could see the birds about 20 yards in front of Grady huddled in the snow. The birds held well until I moved to the front of the dogs and then flushed. Neither dog moved a muscle until the flush and shot. Wow! That's how it's supposed to be. How come that hadn't happened much in the past month?

As the day progressed I saw more and more of that great dog work by both boys.  I only saw one covey busted wild. Both dogs were on point ahead of me and out of sight when the birds busted at about 100 yards away. I don't know if the dogs broke or the birds just flushed.

 I had 3 or 4 points that were solid but, when I approached, all I saw was bird sign where they had been feeding but had flown earlier and left plenty of scent.

To make it short I had excellent dog work today and I attribute that to the snow or moisture. I know better but I was expecting more out of my dogs then they could produce. Grady traveled just as far and fast as his past hunts but seemed to be able to find and hold the birds. By the time we got back to the truck we had 11 birds with only 10 shots. It wasn't because of good shooting but good dog work. Outside of getting a scotch double on one covey of huns I shot one bird out of each covey pointed.

The only draw back to the day was when I saw Grady trying to get something that seemed to be stuck in his mouth. As I approached I could see the quills in his lips. I never saw the porcupine, but evidently Grady is getting smarter because there were only about 20 and they came out fairly easily.

Another note is the condition of the birds. None of the chukars had any fat at all and the huns had just a little. Their crops were filled with seeds and no green grass. As long as we get some good sunny days this snow will have done us a lot of good. Not only for scenting but to get the grasses growing and helping the birds fatten up before the real cold season comes.

I saw loads of birds today so get out there and let your dogs do what you got them for. And trust them to use their instincts to find you birds.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Up Chuk or Chuk Up

 Today I finally got on a real chukar mountain and even with the hot and dry conditions I made 5 miles and 1800 feet of elevation gain. As the title says many times my body wanted to quit and do a little up chuking. Luckily, Jake and Grady were the stimulus I needed. They were covering the mountain with gusto even if I couldn't. Watching them covering the mountain forced me to chuk up and get to where they were telling me the birds were. 

It wasn't with a lot more stops than usual but just getting there was a huge accomplishment today. And although Grady busted far more birds than I would have liked they did have enough good dog work to keep me happy. Especially Jake who has learned to pace himself.

The really good news is that there were loads of birds. I don't believe we went more than 10 minutes without seeing a chukar after the original hour of getting to them. Some held great and some acted like January birds. It was my first time to really get into chukar country and I believe the numbers are up for the year even after that very wet June.

Tomorrow I'm sure I'll pay the price for being in such bad shape but it will be a good price to pay when I think of how much fun I had with the boys on the mountain. I'm not packing a camera on my trips yet but did get a tailgate picture of the boys take for the day. It looks like cooler and wetter weather coming in the next few days so I'm hoping to get out for some more fun and maybe a little better dog work (GRADY). Hope to see you and the dogs out there.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The outdoor commitment

 This might be a little bit of a different post for me but the past 7 1/2 months have been very different for me so here goes.

Maybe it's my age or maybe it was because of my accident, but I've watched the news channels more this year than ever before. Because I couldn't get out the first thing I did every morning was turn on the tube and see what new was going on in politics. Gunsmoke was on the other channel so I'd take a break once in a while to see whether I'd seen that episode or not but I always seemed back to the news. It's a good thing I didn't have one of those tools that tell you blood pressure because, like everyone else no matter what side they're on, I might have blown the mercury out of the top.

After a while I spent some time in my side by side letting the dogs run but that didn't last long before I was back in my lounge chair seeing what I had missed. It wouldn't be long before I heard something that inflamed me and I was wondering what ever happened to treating each other with respect. That is obviously a word that has gone by the way side. Covid 19 took over the sports world so there was no other contest to watch and like most people I know I was becoming consumed by it.

Although I made a few trips out in September, they were short and limited to certain terrains. I would go check these areas out with the dogs but spent more time in the truck driving to and from the hunting areas and listening to guess what, yes the news channel. By the time I got home I had forgotten those short hours of watching the dogs. Thank God football finally came around and at least my evenings and weekends are somewhat back to normal.

Then my back operation finally came and my post op visit two weeks later. They said things are looking good but don't hike or hunt for another month. I knew that was not likely and yesterday morning I woke up and turned on the tube to you know what. Five minutes into it I declared this was B.S. I loaded up the dogs, vest and shot gun and headed for the hills. This time I put some of my favorite tunes on and it seemed like we were where we wanted to be in no time at all.

I had planned on hunting the tops and not losing much elevation. We just needed to be out in the outdoors hearing nothing but nature. It started out a little hectic since I let the boys out without putting the collars on yet. Jake was still waiting but Grady had already found a covey of chukar and was having a ball making sure each and every bird left the ground for another county. There was no stopping him until every bird was gone and than he reluctantly came to me. Funny how the collar refreshes their memory even when you don't push the button. So, off we go and Grady is mach 10 right now. There is not going to be a stone unturned until he finds more birds. This is Jake's eighth hunting season and he knows how to cover more ground with his nose and not his legs. I have no idea what Grady is seeing because he is out of sight most of the time but I keep walking the game trail in pursuit even though my back hurts a little. Being where I am is worth the pain.

As I top the next ridge my Alpha tells me Grady is on point. Sure enough, I see him across the draw pointing a red fox about 50 yards from him. I can only carry so much right now so I had left my camera in the truck. What a bummer because as I sat down on the hill to observe, I watched what I thought were some chukars hopping on the rocks below the fox and thought it would have made a great video. Grady held the point well for a couple of minutes (I now didn't know which he was pointing) and when I got up and headed across the hill the fox took off and so did the chukars. That would've been enough excitement for me but I realized Jake was on point below me and although I didn't want to lose elevation I was obligated to go to him. It was slow going but worth the walk.

Grady came sprinting past me and almost fell trying to stop and honor the point. Knowing I can't twist much yet I tried to position myself for a straight away shot. Of course that didn't happen and the birds flew off without a shot fired. All but that one straggler who obliged me with a straight away shot and a dropped bird for Jake to retrieve. Losing elevation I searched for the next trail to lead me back to the vehicle. I soon found one and walked it as the dogs covered the mountainside above and below me. I was aware of nothing except my dogs and the mountain. I made several stops along the way to rest my back and enjoy the scenery and realized how much I have missed in the past months.

We had a few more productive points on the way back to the truck and I managed a few more birds but was happy to be back in the seat of the truck for the drive home with the boys. We got home and there was a college football game to watch and make it through the rest of the day.

Then we got up this morning. Without thinking I turned the T.V. on to the news channel. Same old B.S. only a little more nasty. About ten minutes of it and I asked the dogs if they wanted to go hunting. That was a dumb question and we were soon heading to the mountains. I chose a place that wasn't quite as accommodating as yesterday and we did more elevation gain than I probably should have but the boys had a ball and produced some nice points I couldn't get to and one that produced a good shot and a retrieve. At one point my back started cramping so I took a break on a rock outcropping. As the dogs and I sat there sunning ourselves two bucks came over the ridge below us and strolled along the hill side for several hundred yards before they disappeared. One was a magnificent big buck. He was heavy, wide and tall. A buck anyone would be proud to hang on the wall. I whispered to the boys that there's the guy everyone is looking for.

Once again I was glad to be back to the truck and a soft seat. Now at home we are just waiting for the football game to start. No news.

My point is obvious. I like everyone else have gotten so tuned in on the virus, politics and other B.S. that I forgot about the greatness of being outdoors. The last two days put me back to where I want to be, enjoying life. The outdoors is where I belong. Sure these times are hard, but we don't need to quit living. For me and probably most of you, being outdoors puts most of these other things on the back burner. We are lucky to have canine partners that enjoy the outdoors as much as us. They never say no. So make a commitment to take your pups outdoors as much as possible and let others worry about the worlds problems. It's sure working for me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Early season take

 From other sites and text's I'm getting a mixed opinion on the chukar and hun populations in southwest Idaho. It's hard to say what the season is going to bring and rather than give a thumbs up or down I'll tell you what I found.

I'm going under the knife tomorrow so understand these hunts have been in good chukar country but not many miles (two at the most each time) and very little elevation gain or loss.

My first hunt was almost a bust. Both Jake and Grady were excited to be on a chukar mountain again and covered a lot of country and we saw one chukar that looked to be a mature bird. The hill was as dry as I can ever remember and I barely had enough water to keep the dogs hydrated and we were soon headed home.

Hunt two brought just a little moisture over the night and also lifted my spirits enough to hurry out in the morning for maybe some good points. By the time I got to my hunting location I could tell the moisture had missed this spot. But we went on anyhow. I was pleased shortly after we left Grady busted a dozen or so chukars and they all looked to be mature first year birds. They flew across the draw and although Grady wanted to pursue I knew I couldn't get down the canyon and back up so I encouraged him to stay with me and follow the trail around the dry ridge. Twice I saw coveys of chukar flying off below me and was quite sure Grady had busted them. By the time I covered about two miles and ended up back at the rig the dogs busted 6 covey of birds with the biggest covey being about 2 dozen. Although I got no points I did shoot two birds and they were this years birds and mature.

Hunt three took me to an old favorite. From the time we got out of the rig we were hearing birds. I even got out the bino's and watched several birds hopping from rock to rock high above. Although I knew I couldn't get to them I slowly headed that way for a game trail that rounded the ridge they were on. I was sure once we got on the trail the boys would at least bump a few birds from above but was shocked when the dogs went through the area and never even got excited. I knew there were birds there because I saw them but the dogs never picked up scent. As we rounded the ridge the birds were chattering like crazy and I could see them crow hopping up the hill. The dogs also heard them and were encouraged up the hill. Wow! by the time we concluded our hunt I saw at least 30 birds on the ground and never saw one take to the sky. Once again, it was very dry conditions.

Being I don't know how long I'll be down I promised the boys one more hunt even though it was going to be warm. I usually try not to hunt the same spot twice in a month but decided because of the ease of walking I'd return to the scene of day ones hunt. The dogs were treated to some excitement seeing two covey from the road on the way in and were more than ready to get the collars on and start the hunt. We parked in the same old spot and it wasn't five minutes before a large covey of chukars flew around the ridge and landed not 100 yards away. We headed that way and the dogs got a little birdie but didn't really act that excited and worked their way up the draw. As I walked through the area I saw the birds land I was surprised as they flushed. The dogs never even smelled them. They weren't on the ground long enough to leave much scent I guess and these birds were from a later hatch so I left them for a later date. Soon after that one of the dogs busted a half dozen more chukars that dove down the draw. I stayed at about the same elevation letting the dogs work the area. I watched as they got birdie but they never gave me a point. By the time they got a snoot full they were right on top of the birds and they flushed. This happened several times before we got back to the truck. I ended up shooting three birds that were flushed and these birds also were first year mature birds.

So there you go. Take it from as to what the season is going to look like. The place I went to on the first and fourth hunt produced one bird the first time and at least 50 the fourth. Under good conditions who knows how many birds we might have seen. Even though it wasn't as much fun for me to watch the boys slamming on point they still had a great time being out there searching. They even got to get some feathers in their mouths.

The weather has made it tough out there and it's a hit or miss time of the year. My nose got plugged up on today's hike so I can imagine how much pollen and dust the boys sucked in trying to find those birds. One other observation that might be of some importance was the quail on the way out. We saw several covey of quail on the road and every covey was huddled up in the shade of trees. Evidently birds don't care for heat either and possibly don't cover as much ground this time of the year thus not leaving as much scent. Just a thought to why some people aren't seeing as many birds.

Anyhow, I'm looking forwards to some wet weather and cooler temperatures and hoping in about two weeks to be on the mountain again. I believe the birds are out there just waiting to make me look like a fool again and I'm just waiting to oblige them so you guys save a few for me.

Good luck

Monday, September 14, 2020

A couple of Ruffs and fire update

 Got another report on the Brownlee area and birds. Geoff says he spent a month over at Brownlee and was disappointed in number of birds seen. Especially the huns.

As far as the fire is going, Many hunters might change their plans on the area. At 40% containment and almost everything north and east of highway 71 being burnt the hunting areas are going to be limited quite a bit. Most areas south and west of the road were untouched but will probably see heavy pressure this year do to the limited access.

The smoke has been heavy for the last week but the boys and I made it up high in the timber to find a few ruff grouse. Ruff's are frustrating to hunt. They are usually in the heavy brush and fly with the brush as cover. We busted quite a few that we never got shots at and the only points we had were birds that flew to the trees. I say points, but it's more like hound dogs treeing cats with the high pitched barking as the dogs look up in the trees at the birds taunting them. We did get a couple of birds that made the mistake of flying into the open and once again both dogs got to get a bird to retrieve and were happy with that.

Let's hope for some moisture and cooler weather for the dogs to be able to enjoy the upcoming season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Woodhead fire

 Just found out today about a fire burning on the Cecil Andrus access property. It's something that some of you from out of state might take a look at. Especially if that's one of your go to locations. 

It started two days ago just before we got some heavy winds. It quickly blew into 28,000 acres. For the most part it's burning north and east of the road leading to Woodhead but has already burned some prime upland bird habitat. I've just seen a preliminary map but it looks like Grade creek and Camp creek are gone. From there it looks like it's heading toward the timber.

It's been breezy all day so I'm sure it's still causing some damage and hard to get a handle on. When I get a better map of the fire I'll try and post it if anyone wants but for now you might keep that in mind as you prepare for the hunting season.

Good Luck.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

We got the Blues

 Well we had a cool morning so we decided to try a short hunt before the next round of doctor visits. This has been time consuming and not our version of a good time but the boys and I are making the best of it. It wasn't a great day for points, in fact we didn't have any. But we bumped a couple of birds and both dogs got a retrieve and seemed happy about that. 

 Wasn't bad for a half mile jaunt. It felt good to be out walking with a gun in hand again and the dogs knew exactly what that meant for them to do. We're looking forward to chukar season and hoping we can get on the hill soon.

Friday, August 28, 2020

My oh My

 The verdict is out for me on this late hatch. I was out working on the pond and Grady showed up with a hun chick that was about a week old. Although it was still alive it became a study bird. I took a short walk and sure enough jumped Mom who pretended to be hurt and watched several more chicks running through the tall grass. I've never seen hun chicks around here let alone that young.

This late of a hatch couldn't have been from the June rains so I am assuming that the nest probably got destroyed by the cutting of the hay. With only three weeks to the opener these chicks and probably many others around the state will be flying but will be obvious not to be full grown. Shoot or not, it's up to you, but I think we'll be seeing more of these young birds than usual.

This isn't in any way a post for changing the season to a later date because I am against that. I am for keeping every day of the season as is and those that don't want to hunt early or late for whatever reason don't need to go. I am only trying to point out what we might be seeing out there early this year. No matter what size of the bird the dogs love to find them and I love watching them try. 

Be ready to go and get em.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Good news to add to Saturdays post.

 Got out this morning for a very short jaunt with the boys in some hun country. Very short because my legs gave out twice making the trip a whole mile round trip. Pretty sad. But the good news is that Grady Jumped two different huns playing the wounded game. Each bird did their thing in keeping Grady chasing and away from what I'm sure was young chicks. Both times I recalled the dogs and moved away from the area. Had the chicks (if they were there) been more than ten days old they would have flushed for short a short distance with the adult bird. I've never seen a chukar or hun fake crippled when there were no chicks so I'm pretty sure they were there which adds more confidence that there are lots of late hatches out there. 

Fingers still crossed.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Where'd the birds go

 I made my mid August scouting trip today and have to admit to being a little disappointed in the number of birds I saw. Don't get too disgruntled yet because I couldn't cover much country by foot but mostly on the roads. As far as chukars go, I saw fewer of them than ever on this route but the few I found were way up high. Once I got on the mountain I was surprised how dry it is. From a distance things look green but most of that green look is skeleton weed which has absolutely no nutritional value. Grass hoppers were everywhere. Although the mountains are very dry there seems to be plenty of water in the seeps for all of the wildlife to have had a good summer. It was very warm today and Jake just held back with the old cripple as Jake covered the mountain side looking for birds. At two years old he seems to have endless energy no matter what the weather.

Three different times he sent young chukars flying past Jake and I and my guess says they were between 6 and 8 weeks old which means they came from successful first hatches.

I never heard chukar talk which could be good or bad. Either there weren't many birds around or they still had young enough birds that they didn't care to announce their presence. I did see plenty of small chukar track on the trails to believe there was birds of about three to four weeks old or less moving around.

I also found feathers of chicks from our upland birds. This one happens to be from a hun.

I saw two covey of huns from the road and captured this small group of what appeared to be all adult birds.

If quail are any indication of what the upland season will be like, start buying more shells. Those little turds are everywhere but won't sit still long enough for me to get any camera action. There size ranges from half grown to just bigger than bumble bees. If the amount of young quail is any indication of chukar populations, there are a lot of young chukars out there that we couldn't find.

It seemed like every time I came around a corner where there was shade there was another group of quail heading for cover.

The turkeys are also a tale-tale sign of this different summer. I saw one group of probably 50 or 60 birds that were about 3/4 grown with only 6 adult birds as far as I could tell and than I came across this group with different size chicks and as many adults as hens. Strange hatches.
So, there is my scouting report for mid August. Not real exciting but as I said, I kind of whimped out and spent too much time on my butt. In my heart I believe there are a lot of late birds this year but don't want to get all excited about something I can't prove but as soon as the doc gets me fixed I hope to get some better videos of what to expect this season.

Friday, July 31, 2020

July update

I wish I could report more, but my recovery has been slow and getting on the hill has been a little tough. I finally did a hike of shortly over two miles on a steep chukar hill today with the dogs and was pleased with what I saw. But not too happy with how bad I hurt afterwords.

To start off with I have been getting lot's of reports from other hunters and for the most part they are positive. They have ranged from typical chick counts of 10 or so per covey to seeing a lot of mature birds already covied up. So, we're still at the glass is half full stage.

This is what I found on our two hour hike today. As you can see I'm pretty slow right now covering about a mile per hour. First off, there were some areas where the skeleton weed has taken over and there was absolutely no reason for any wildlife to be there. There is no nutritional value to this plant, even for cattle. Most of the weed I noticed was on the drive back out and it seemed to go quite a ways up the hill which might explain why I didn't see many birds on the road.

Secondly, the springs are holding more water this year and from what I saw there are plenty seeps up high in the chukar country to hold birds. Those two factors make it very possible for chukars to not be in the normal areas we hunt, but scattered more across the mountain.

Even though it was 88 degrees by the time I got back to my truck from the morning jaunt, I had a couple of points that produced some birds. One covey looked to have about ten 6 to 8 week old birds and the second had only four maybe 4 week old birds. The first covey had two adults with the chicks and the second only one. As I said, it was hot, and the rest of the birds we saw were from flushes. One covey had around ten chicks in it and as they flew over I guessed them to be about 6 weeks old. Another covey Grady bumped far down below me was quite larger with over 25 birds and I believe they were between 4 to 6 weeks old ,but from the distance of about 150 yards I could be wrong. Jake bumped a large chukar with two chicks not over three weeks old. There could have been more birds there but we quickly moved on. One other bird was sent over the top of me chuking as it flew over but I couldn't move quick enough to see it or whether it had any little ones along.

Those were the birds I saw. There might have been more that I didn't see the way Grady was covering the mountain and the lack of scent but we'll never know.

On the way out I saw two huns standing off the road and I went back with the camera hoping to flush the birds with little ones in tow. I captured the flush but it seemed like it might have been 8 to 10 full size birds. I'll look back at the film and see if I can tell. I also saw several pair of quail on the road as well as quail with little ones from bumble bee size to half grown.

I'm hoping to get stronger and have a better post around the 20th of August with some pictures and video's so check back than.

Also be prepared for lots of cheat. I've never seen it as thick as it is this year. I pulled more off my shorthairs than ever before.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Chukar numbers

It's too early to call but I just left my leg therapist and was thrilled with what she told me. Before she met me she didn't even know what a chukar was and this weekend her boyfriend took her crappie fishing over at Brownlee reservoir. It was her first time there and her boyfriend pointed out the chukars along the reservoir. Her words were that they were everywhere and lot's of babies. Neither her or her boyfriend hunt so a "lot" could mean different for her than to chukar hunters. Still it was music to my ears.

Two other chukar hunters I know said they are seeing covey's with young birds in tow in the Hell's canyon area and also along the Salmon. Both guys were very encouraged.

Another hunter has mixed feelings right now, seeing both mature groups of chukar as well as hens with little ones.

For those chukar enthusiasts, that's an early forecast of what we might be looking at. I'll be out with my camera in about 4 weeks hoping to film lot's of great things for the upcoming season. Along with some reports from other chukar hunters I hope to bring you positive proof of a great upcoming season. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Heavy rainfall concerns this month

Wow! what a month for moisture. So far this month we have had 3 times the amount of rain as normal for the whole month. The weather forecast says today is about the end to this trend for the month. Hopefully we will be back to normal from here on.

I've been getting lots of request on my thoughts about all this rain and it's effects on the chukar hatch. I've done lot's of reading and kept lot's of notes of observations of chukar populations but sadly haven't kept notes of rainfall amounts in June for each year. If anyone could possibly tell me how to find the average rainfall amount in June for the past 30 years I could come up with a little more positive answer to how much the spring rains effect the outcome for the coming seasons.

Even with the heavy rainfalls we have had I know we are better off than drought conditions. On dry years many of the birds don't even try to nest. The vegetation and insects are not there to produce healthy conditions for reproduction, so on drought years you will see many small coveys of birds in the spring instead of pairs. Spring rains produce lot's of green up and insects which are the main ingredients for good chick survival. This June has provided plenty of that. Chicks that have survived so far or that haven't hatched yet should have an abundance of feed for the remainder of the summer months. Conditions from here out should be optimum for survival. A rain or two in July and August might help conditions even more but won't be necessary for what could be a good year.

With that being said, I'll give my thoughts of what might happen. First of all, although most articles say the mean time for chukar/hun hatching is about June 10, I believe it occurs later in the month. My only reason for thinking that is from observations of size of birds in late July and early August. I raised chukars for a couple of years and "think" I can judge age pretty well from their size and flight ability. If I am right, than the most hatches are just beginning. The hatches that have already happened and have been lost have plenty of time for the hen to renest and still have good number of eggs to hatch. These spring conditions have produced prime nutrients for hens to reproduce plenty of eggs for a second hatch. The second hatch from these hens will probably be as good as the first one where on a normal weather year the egg numbers may be smaller.

Chukars and huns are resilient nesters and will keep trying to nest as long as conditions are right. I believe it is a myth that they will nest two or three times and raise separate broods. I think they will only have a second brood if they lose all their chicks. It's not possible to raise chicks and sit a nest at the same time so they will have only one brood per year. But on normal years with moisture almost all hens are reproducing instead of just a portion of them on drought years and they will keep on trying until successful or it's too late. That is why we sometimes see birds so young clear into late October.

I haven't been able to get out and locate chukar and hun nests this Spring because of my lack of mobility but I have been able to drive the roads and observe the bigger birds(turkey) and find a few of their nest for observation. I found five nests and the earliest of them hatched May 23rd and the latest was just five days ago. Two of the nest were destroyed by predators which I believe is definitely harder on nest than rain. I can't speak of survival of the chicks because of my inability to get out and observe little ones feeding with the mom nor do I want to take a chance of disturbing them on these wet days. I do believe that the other upland birds are two to three weeks behind turkeys in the hatch so that would place hatch times from mid June on.

I have no biological facts to say I'm right but I really believe June rains don't hurt the numbers as much as I use to. These heavy rains had to have hurt some but not as much as I once feared. Keep thinking positive. I do know that we will at least have a normal year. Every down year that I can recall has been preceded by a dry spring and summer. Hopefully this will be a banner year and we will learn a little more about chukar/hun reproduction conditions.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Snake avoidance.

Although we have never had a problem with rattle snakes I have always done some snake avoidance with my dogs. Tucker and Dakota went to snake avoidance class while Jake and Grady were taught by me. Sometimes you have to wonder if it really works but once in a while the right opportunity comes along to help ease the mind. Mine was today.

While rehabbing on a logging road with my dogs I came across a bull snake on the road. At 60 degrees he wasn't moving much so I didn't know whether the dogs had even crossed his path as they jogged around looking for some kind of prey. So I called them back down the road ready to give them some stimulation when either they reacted to the snake or the snake reacted to them and surprisingly they both stopped right next to the snake and looked for me to release them to go play.

Neither dog acted as if they smelled the snake and the snake wasn't interested in getting any attention so I snapped the photo and walked the dogs down the road where they proceeded hunting for whatever they could find. I went back to the snake and pushed him around with my cane aggravating it some until it was hissing and striking at the object.

I than called the boys back and when they saw the movement of the snake they retreated quickly without any stimulus. It's a nice feeling to know that the avoidance is there.

I don't know why the dogs didn't smell the snake because I have seen them react from the smell of snakes before but it was obvious they had no idea at our first contact. None of this will ever solve that chance meeting but it will eliminate the curious dog that has to see what the snake is doing and go in for a closer look, especially puppies. 

This also shows that generally snakes won't react to dogs or other objects like canes unless provoked. Knock on wood that our fortune with snakes will stay the same for the coming years.
For some reason the movie portion isn't working right so you'll have to imagine the snake striking at my cane. I'm about to give up on this technology.

Monday, April 27, 2020


Nothing exciting to tell about upland birds do to the fact I still can't put any weight on my leg and the exercising of the boys is from my side by side. Boys were finding some paired birds earlier but it's getting mighty warm for those runs.

My grandson took up archery hunting this year and his first quarry was turkey. Conner is a very stick to it type guy and damn if he didn't put an arrow in one a few days back. First shot at a wild animal.
This morning I got mine and even though it was with a shot gun it took all the energy I could muster up. I drove my side by side along a logging road until I found a bird that gobbled. Gave it about 15 minutes and than slid down the slope until I could find a place where I might see him if he decided to come to me. After about an hour of chatting back and forth he finally committed to about 15 yards where the twelve gauge mad a fine pattern on his head. I was jacked to have done it with a broken leg but was soon brought back to earth when I loaded the bird in my pack for the return back up the slope to my ride. On my hands and knees I crawled up the slope pushing my shotgun and crutches. It took over an hour to get back to the road. It was right at 1/4 mile. I remember when I use to run the quarter mile in 60 seconds, wow! how things have changed. After the hour long quarter mile I was shaking and more tired than any I can ever remember. I lay on the road for at least 15 minutes with my arms burning like they use to after a day of weight training. This time I got the job done but I guarantee I won't be doing any more hunting until I have two legs to walk on.
The picture was taken on the tree stump of my accident in hopes that I won't forget either event.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Crippled times

We're finally getting out in the field but I'm stuck to the vehicle seat. Here's what we're doing though. Grady was on point for about two minutes before Jake and I found him where Jake immediately honored. Four or five minutes went by and I finally got Jake to move by throwing a rock and saying dead bird.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A hunt from the past.

I'm getting some real cabin fever here right now. I've seen more of the couch, this chair, and the bathroom than I have in the past five years. The dogs spend most of their time laying beside the couch with big sad eyes staring at me. So I'm looking back through my hunting journal's and remembering hunts from the past. This one was from Jan.25, 2009.

My dad passed away on Jan.24, 2009 and with family all there and five sisters that wanted to take charge of the next weeks proceedings, I asked my brother, Tom, if he'd like to go on a chukar hunt the following day. It sounds kind of cold but I knew dad would have been fishing the day after if I had passed away to celebrate my life. That's what he loved to do. He hunted some but would rather have a fishing pole in his hand.

So, on Jan. 25th, Tom and I took a trip over to Oregon with my only dog at that time, Riley, and chased some birds in reverence to dad. I had a special spot that Riley seemed to relish even though it was very steep with more sage than most of my chukar hunting areas. Riley was such a tall dog I could keep an eye on him in this country even with the taller sage.

It wasn't long before we were into birds and it was great watching my brother walk in on points and shoot birds. I think it was Tom's and my last chukar hunt together. He likes chasing the elk with a stick and string more than chasing dogs. There was lots of good work and some good shooting but there was one event that will stick out in my mind forever.

As we walked the side hill looking for Riley we tried to pay homage to dad by talking about some of the fun things we had done with him in the past. As my receiver said Riley was on point, Tom and I went into hunting mode and approached his point. At the flush we hit two birds that dropped between us and crippled another  which flew around the hill and uphill out of sight. Riley retrieved the first bird right off the bat but spent some time finding number two with Tom doing some directing. We had to drop down in elevation some by the time we found the bird. We figured to stay at that elevation, knowing that going back and searching for a cripple that we had no idea of where it finally went down or  how high it got. Along with all the thick sage we figured it was a lost bird.

I'm guessing 20 to 30 minutes had passed before we resumed hunting. We kept our elevation and it wasn't long before Riley had found another covey, but he was 200 yards ahead of us. I was walking a game trail and about half way to the point a bird rolled out of the sage and landed on the trail in front of me. It was stone dead. I halted Tom and told him of the bird. It was a bird we would never find because we wouldn't be coming out that way. We both chuckled about it and told dad "thanks for finding that one for us".

We all have those special moments, and that was the last special moment for Dad, Tom and me together.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Life is full of journey's.

Don't know exactly what this post has to do with chukar hunting but I am stuck in this room for a few days and it would be a good time to write about my latest journey with my chain saw. I'm hoping to get a lot of readers just for the fact of knowing what we are capable of doing when we need to as well as to attach chukar hunting to the final outcome. Here goes.

March 2 was going to be a boring day around the Szurgot house and so I made plans to do a little yard work and then take the dogs for a hike to finish the day off. I had fallen a tree the previous day and had plans finish it up. Even though the tree was on the ground, the bottom part was still attached to the stump. It was obvious to me that when I cut the part still attached, the tree would roll off the stump away from me. The next thing I knew I was trying to get up off the ground and my mind was saying you're in trouble. I don't remember those few seconds that the log sprung back off the stump and shot into my leg. It had to have happened with great force. I couldn't get up and realized my leg was broken and so I called out several times "I need help". Grady and Jake were both licking me in the face and sensed something was wrong. The first thing I had to do was crawl across the creek and than pull myself 150 feet or so to my side by side.

That was my first sign of how bad of trouble I was in. My leg got stuck as I crossed the creek and when I looked back to see what it was stuck on I was sickened by seeing the way my foot was pointing the wrong way and my pants looked like there was a broken bone pushing on them. I tried to roll a little but the bottom part of my leg stayed in the same position so I just pulled a little harder and was soon heading up the yard. This whole time (I have no idea of how long) I would scream with each pull and then talk to the boys who were carefully walking by my side. They were super.

As I got to the side by side, I pulled myself up to the seat and got my good leg on the floor board and looked at my left leg which was just dangling over the edge. I don't remember a lot of pain at that time but there must have been more than I think because I remember screaming with every move. As I looked at my leg I remember thinking "Oh my God, you're going to lose your leg". I lifted my broken leg to the floor board and tried to position the foot flat on the floor. Both dogs were wanting to get into the side by side because that is where they ride when we use it to go some place but they seemed to understand when I said stay and then followed me to the neighbors with a heal. Wow! It looked like some of that yard training actually worked.

My neighbor, Bill Anderson, is a retired fireman and paramedic and I knew that would be the best place to go for help. He was burning leaves in his front field and casually looked up at me as I pulled up 20 yards away. "Bill, I need some help. I just broke my leg." Never seeing Bill do his paramedic thing, I was impressed as to how well he jumped into action. The doctor said his fast actions contributed to me not losing my leg. From that moment on I knew I was totally dependent on him and focused on every word he said. He calmly talked me into relaxing the best I could as he cut my boot off and then continued to my pant leg. As he cut the socks off I could finally see the bones and felt it wasn't going to turn out good.

Jake and Grady were trying to keep an eye on me but Gayle, Bill's wife, kept their attention while she called for life fight. I kept talking to them about the dogs and they assured me that they would be just fine. Their dog and mine are good buddies and play a lot together anyhow so at least I was at ease as to their care. I was just as concerned as to how I was going to get them their three times a week hike in the mountains. That has been my life enjoyment for the past thirty years. I was as concerned about that as I was my health. For now though, my leg and dogs were in the good hands of my neighbors.

Soon the Horseshoe Bend ambulance arrived but they said there was very little more they could do, other than what Bill had already done and I should just lat flat until the life flight showed up, which was very soon. They transported me to the helicopter and we were soon on our way to the hospital. They must have given me something good because I remember them mentioning how well I could screw up a leg and suddenly we were in the hospital.

Everything was a real blur at the hospital and I vaguely remember my conversation with the Doc but  it had to do with how to proceed with the possibility of losing my lower leg. Five hours later I awoke with my family standing there. Barbara, Kerri, Conner and Mac. I was really in lala land but somehow was convinced everything came out great.

Okay, that's how the day played out. What is so different from how many such stories go and why post it on a chukar blog? Maybe it would be better if I called it a passion blog. I believe my passion for chukar hunting and dogs is what is going to help make the ending of this ordeal positive.

When the accident first happened I was just concerned about my leg, but because of my love for my dogs I was quickly concentrating on how I was going to get back to what I love. There is an old saying about chukar hunting "your first hunt is for fun and the next is for revenge". I disagree. I believe the first hunt is for the experience and if you continue chasing chukars it's about the challenge. I can see how easy it might be to give up after an accident like this and say just go with the flow if you don't have a passion. But having that passion my mind won't let me even think of a life without it. Plus that passion probably helped making my body strong enough to overcome the injury.

Contained passions are a great thing. Without them life can become a little dull. I truly believe that if it weren't for my passion for chukar hunting and being with my dogs and the love and care from my family I wouldn't be sitting here with such a positive attitude. It would become too easy to sit here feeling sorry for myself and popping pain pills. If you're reading this blog you are probably a chukar hunter and maybe you already know what chukar hunting does for you but I can tell you your health thanks you for hitting that mountain.

Here are a few shots of my leg.
A couple of these stapled places are where the bones were protruding.
And some of them where they had to insert the metal plates.
In the end I have more metal in my leg to accompany my knee replacement.
Thank you to Bill, life flight and the hospital doctors and nurses for a job well done. I know two dogs you made very happy.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

down time

This is one of those post you hope you never have to do but I figure with all the inquisitive calls I'm getting I just as well tell the story.

Monday I cut down a few trees around the property and the last one got hung up in a precarious position. I knew it there was a lot of pressure on the tree but figure as I cut the remaining part of the tree the log would shoot away from me.

Wrong. It shot back through my leg busting it pretty good. I immediately knew I was in trouble and tried to yell for help but soon realized the neighbors couldn't hear me. I had to get across the creek and to my side by side so I could get some help. As I drug my leg behind me the foot was facing in the wrong direction and I could see a bone sticking out through the muscle. I had no choice but to get to the side by side, pull myself up into it and head for a neighbor who was an x paramedic who took care of me from that point on until life flight picked me up.

So, that it the short story of how it happened. I spent three days in the hospital and the doc kept stressing how bad the fracture was and that I would not be able to put any wight on that foot for three months. I have to admit that this injury scared the crap out of me and realized how hard it might have been to splint my own leg had I have had to. 

Jake and Grady are real disappointed at the thought of not getting out much this Spring but we'll get through it somehow. Say a few prayers for my dogs in hopes that we still can find a way to enjoy the mountains during this down time and hopefully I'll be seeing you all by late summer.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

More success photos

Keep sending them in.

Mark Midtlying
Quinn Inwards new pup, Joker has already got it figured.

Final days

Well the Idaho season has come to an end. We hit the hill as hard as possible the last three days and although we were successful in many ways, the last day painted a picture of what the future for me and the mountain is likely to look like. It wasn't pretty and although the pictures I took are the greatest parts of my hunts, they don't show the old man behind the camera. I hoped I would never get old ,but this year made me realize those dreams would not continue.

The first couple of days were on hills a little more negotiable than the third, but still put quite a hurt on the body. No falls or anything like that, just sore back and other muscles. I saved the last day for the bad stuff knowing where Greg and I would finish the season. Day one we had a darn good day and packed quite a good day on my back  to the truck.
It was warm and the snow was departing the mountain quite rapidly and we were lucky to beat the bad slides home.
We heard later that the road had been closed for a couple of hours that evening. The next day we hiked high above the fog and found a fair number of birds that wanted to tease us and we got some good entertainment, but it wasn't without some struggling. Not for the dogs but for me. My lungs and back said to make it a short one but we still gained about 1500 feet in elevation.
We got some great points and once in a while I even made a good shot ,but we cut the day shorter than usual. I always love taking point and honor shots with the camera.
Three days in a row are getting too much for Jake, even though he just turned 7.And  I knew he would be staying home the next day so I was concentrating more on his points as we headed back down the hill. He didn't disappoint me at all and finished the day with some fine action. The number of birds I've shot over him in the last 7 years is amazing.
Now to the killer. Day three. As I said. I knew where we were headed and I also knew how steep it was so I saved Jake the misery by leaving him at home with Barb. It was hard leaving my buddy behind, but I knew it was best. Greg Allen and I have hunted this spot for over 25 years and this was our first trip to this steep mountain this year. I mentally was prepared, so I thought. Here's a short video of Greg and his three girls Trudy, Katie and the pup Elsa. I headed up the slope early to video the excitement of the girls ready to go. Greg and I have been doing this together for over 30 years and he and his girls are the best hunting companions a guy could ever want.

Don't let the video fool you. This mountain is as steep a mountain as you can hunt. There is never a flat spot to sink your feet into. Even the ridges and draws are too steep to go straight up. Most places you can at least find a deer trail to follow, but not this mountain. You just side hill around and up the mountain until one ankle gets sore and than do a 180 until you get to the elevation you want to hunt. Greg always heads up the road about a half a mile and then hits the slopes to put some distance between us. I always know where he is from the distant shots or the covey of chukars flying high above me around the hill. Grady had no problem traversing the side hills, but even his points 150 yards away and usually up hill or down seemed to take me forever to get to.
Once again, don't let the picture fool you. The hill I am on is as steep as the opposite hill. In fact it is a continuation of the hill we are side hilling.  It just continues and the birds love it. I'd have to say I had at least 15 solid points on the day and most of half of them I just couldn't get to. Gaining the elevation was just kicking my butt.
When I would get to the point and shoot well the bird would always fall at least 100 yards down the hill making for hard and tiring retrieves. Once again this video shows the lst half a Grady's retrieve and the video does the steepness no justice.

Have I mentioned that the mountain was always steep. This long off shot of Grady is pretty much the same elevation as I was, but due to the steepness it still took me several minutes to get to his point 190 yards away and then not get a shot because the birds were down hill and to quick for me to get a shot.

 I took one passing shot that day and I ended up rolling side hill two or three times because of the steepness. I'd probably still be rolling if I had fallen down hill instead of  the way I did. I have to say seeing the number of birds I did kept both Grady and I excited but my body just decided to quit on me. Grady had find after find and I got some good photos and made a few nice shots afterwords but the work only began for Grady at the shot. The retrieves were long. 
As I look at these pictures I think was it really that bad or was I imagining it being steep. Did I mention how steep it was. This was my favorite point of the day and after the photo I made a crippling shot on a bird that fluttered down the hill out of sight.
Grady went down for the retrieve but had no idea the bird went as far as it did, so I had to head down the slope to what seemed forever until Grady found the bird and retrieved it to me. I looked back up at the elevation we had lost and decided there was no way I could get back up there and decided to stay at the current elevation. Grady's last point was shortly after that with the same results but this time the bird made it almost down to the road. Grady had no idea I had hit it and I knew I had to go down and help him find the bird. We did find the bird but I was spent for the day. We walked the final mile on the road with chukars calling us from above. In years past there is no way that I wouldn't have taken their challenging calls unless I had already limited out but this day was different. The will to continue was gone. It was almost not fun. Back at the truck we met Greg and took some photo's of his take.
Of course Grady had to get in the picture. In the past I would have considered this a great hunt but by now I was sore enough I was thinking of my bed back home. We drove the hour and a half back to Payette where Greg dropped me off  at my truck and continued my hour drive home. I stopped 6 times just to stretch and by the time I got home Barb had to help me bring the gear in while I soaked in the tub. 
If this post sounds like the whimpering of a whipped pup, it is. I'm apologizing for the future. Hopefully I'll be still posting, but it will probably be less success stories. I'm going to find more huntable areas for me and the boys and I know that means fewer birds. But you'll never hear me say it's not like it use to be because I know they are up there waiting for someone else who loves chasing chukars as much as me to come and challenge them.
I hope someone else comes along and starts a post about chukar hunting. Someone who has the energy to chase the birds in their natural habitat and understands the ups and downs of chukar hunting. Someone who understands that there will always be good bird number years as well as bad. Someone who knows that there is little interference by humans to affect those us and downs. Limit changing and season changing will not change what has worked for the last fifty years. Keeping public lands public will be the biggest challenge to keeping great chukar hunting. There are plenty of people out there to complain about those things as well as the tools and ways that others hunt. We need an ambassador for chukar hunting and the great dogs we follow and great birds we pursue.

Now, for my feelings about the 2019-2020 chukar season. For me it was above average. It started out with seeing a lot of young birds later in the season than usual so my early season found fewer shot birds but it picked up as the season progressed. We didn't have any rough weather conditions so accessibility wasn't much of an issue. Hunting pressure was minimal. The biggest plus for me was my shooting percentage. For the first time I was in the 70% range. 73% to be more exact. I think that was because I'm much slower now and am usually only getting one shot off so I'm taking more time.

One more thing. My rants for the year. Once again there is the talk about seasons and limits. Some want to move the limit back to 6 birds. Why? How many times do you shoot eight birds and what will it accomplish? It won't affect the bird numbers at all but might make some feel better because they got a limit. Most people know golf. That is like saying let's make the hole 4 inches bigger and make 80 par instead of 72. As far as the seasons, the game management has done a great job in finding what works best. The early season works for some and the late season for others. Accept it and move on. Some don't like the heat and some don't like the muddy roads in January. I wouldn't chukar hunt without a dog but I see no fault in those that drive a road until they see a covey bust and than chase them down. What makes their way of hunting any different than mine. This year I heard the rant of hunters riding in their four wheelers while their dogs ran and than would get off and shoot birds when the dogs would point. Not my style but do you really think they get more birds than the walking hunter? As long as what they are doing is legal put it out of your mind and enjoy your hunt the way you should.

Good luck to all in the future and I hope I'll hear from you soon.